These days, we may feel as if leaving the likes of smartphones, cars and energy supplies behind us would be an impossible feat. However, we can regain our independence without compromising the quality of life we live. One way is by going off-grid. By replacing energy and water supplies from the main grid for renewable alternatives, this way of living offers a sustainable alternative to a lifestyle where everything we need is available to use 24/7. Together with Flogas, specialists in LPG canisters, we take you through exactly how living off-grid can be easier than you think.
Finding alternative power
If you manage to remove yourself from the grid, the first thing you must do is find a new energy supply to power your home. Solar energy is a reliable form of power that can produce around 3,400kWh of free electricity every year.If you have small children, then a 3kW to 4kW solar panel system will produce the required amount of energy for a family home, whereas a 2kW to 3kW solar panel will produce enough energy for smaller homes with less people living in them. A 3kW overall solar system will cost around £5,000 – £6,000 and will be a sound investment based on the amount of free electricity you will procure during its lifetime.
You should alsolook at what you can use for backup power. This could include a generator or a LPG gas tank; this can be utilised on cloudy days or if your solar panels stop working for any reason. Or alternatively, domestic wind turbines can also be installed that produce 5kW to 6kW of energy; you will also be paid for any energy that you don’t use which is sent back to the grid.
It’s important to be careful to only use the required energy if you rely on energy supplies that are external to the grid. To keep energy costs low and to live within your own budget, LED bulbs should be used to replace incandescent bulbs – helping to reduce electricity costs by 75%; aim to get rid of any electrical appliances that you don’t need, and make sure that all electrical appliances are turned off at the mains once they have been used.
If you live off-grid, sourcing your own water supply is important. A well can cost anything between £10,000 – 20,000, and this is dependent upon how deep the well is dug, and whether the well will be used as a source of drinking water or for other domestic purposes.
A septic tank may also require installing as you won’t have a sewage system. This sewage tank will need to be emptied periodically by a vacuum truck so that it is disposed of safely. As well as this, a greywater system should also be installed; by treating water used in dishwashing, sinks, showers and baths, this water can be used again. This also benefits the lifespan of your well, as you can reuse water that has already been cleaned and brought to the surface.
Making lifestyle changes
While you’ll have to make practical changes to your life, you must also consider lifestyle changes.
Monitoring and maintaining your level of food, energy and water is important. If you begin to slip, then your reliance on these things may reach unsustainable levels, which may impact your ability to live off-grid. There are many ways to keep on top of waste, and these include:
- Keeping showers short.
- Only using artificial lighting when it is completely dark.
- Turning off lights after exiting a room.
- Using food leftovers for compost to create a rich soil for growing more fruit and vegetables.
- Attend workshops that allow you to learn more about how to repair any damages to the home, or how to cultivate land for agricultural practices.
- Adopt techniques such as hunting and fishing so as to catch fresh food, helping to reduce your reliance upon supermarkets that you would usually have to drive to.
There are of course other variances you could include to live off-grid, and it’s almost certain that you’ll make many mistakes along the way, but if you become self-sufficient, you may find that you unlock your potential and happiness.